The autumn of Camp David

The autumn of Camp David

By Mohamed Naeem

The Egyptian author Mohamed Naeem published an article comparing the period of Camp David and today on the website Manassa. Addressing the current conditions centered around Israel’s aggression, Naeem concludes that “the world of Camp David is coming to an end” and “Egypt must prepare for it”. The article was translated from Arabic into English by UWI.

In the 1970s, as Anwar Sadat was venturing into peace with Israel, opponents and skeptics of his policies said, “Oh my fear, on the day of victory, Sinai will return, and Egypt will be gone.” What if the day comes when Sinai and Egypt are truly at risk of being lost?

Like any other country, the political-geographical unit called Egypt is nothing but wealth, decision, sovereignty and a happy people. Sovereignty over its wealth, its decisions, its land, and above all, a people who toil and hope for a better future in which they can live with human dignity. But where is all this?

Israel rampages on our borders, confident with our long-standing peace with it, exterminating Palestinians – no metaphor or exaggeration. This happens at a time when a large section of Egyptians are on the brink of starvation, our sea bays are sold to Gulf investors to pay the interest on the debt and its mounting assets, Egypt opens its arms to refugees from Sudan, Yemen and Syria because Egyptian refugees in Egypt are no better off.

The Palestinians are knocking on the doors of Sinai in the hope of surviving a non-stop holocaust. In Sinai, which has come to be known as the Arjani Peninsula, the picture is becoming increasingly unclear day by day and a threat to the sovereignty of the Egyptian nation is gradually emerging as Israel becomes a wild and uncontrollable entity with its unpredictable future actions. These unprecedented aggression, criminality and short-sightedness are covered by US imperialism.

We need to remember that Egypt did not promote Camp David as a pacifism in the face of a power differential with Israel, but rather as a gateway to economic prosperity, integration into the global market, and access to modern technology. Peace was part of a package of promises of prosperity, progress, democracy and freedom. So where are we now and what’s left of it all?

A decisive aspect of the Camp David agreement was the conviction on the impossibility of any military solution, one against the other. The October 1973 war reinforced this conviction.  But what if the Israelis endeavored and managed over decades to impose their political will and strategic concepts on us without war and gradually? Would the treaty have any meaning other than depriving Egypt of its independence?

Egypt’s restoration of the Sinai was the cornerstone of the justification and legitimization of Camp David among large segments of the Egyptian people. In the same way, the threat to the Sinai, in one form or another, will trigger for reconsidering the agreement and the possibility of resuming the conflict, in one form or another, with Israel, regardless of the networks of interests built between the two countries during the long period of peace.

Why Camp David is obsolete

Egypt envisioned the Camp David as a framework governing Arab relations with Israel. By this way, Egypt believed that it could play a pivotal and decisive regional role in the region.  But after Mubarak’s attempts in the 1990s to seek an acceptable settlement between Palestinians and Israelis, it became clear that Egypt’s agreement with Israel was only a bilateral agreement between two countries.

For one thing, Israel has proven dozens of times that it cannot be pacified, especially after the political eradication of the component most prone to political compromise, which has escalated since the mid-1990s. During its decades of existence in the region, Israel has shown a real refusal to integrate with the region based on cooperation and goodwill. Israel has been either an aggressive, belligerent entity or an inward-looking entity that develops strong ties with all Arab regimes and elements hostile to liberation, progress and the will of peoples. So much so that Israel has become a model for them in political imagination and modernization.

Secondly, many Gulf states went so far in strengthening their ties with Israel that they’re project harmful to themselves economically, militarily and in security.

Thirdly, Sinai is already under threat, as Egypt failed to demographically integrate it with the Nile Valley and its inhabitants. Although the population of North Sinai does not exceed half a million people, the Egyptian state’s sovereignty over Sinai is only possible through tribal groups loyal to the state.

Moreover, we cannot overlook that Israeli ambitions became so clear by its plan to throw the peninsula into devastating chaos with the displacement of the Palestinians to it. Israel is well aware that its existence depends on keeping Egypt in a weak and confused position, since the existential antagonism between the two countries can only be controlled by an internationally sponsored agreement.

The obsolescence of Camp David also matters at the domestic level in Egypt. The Egyptian military should not rely on Camp David as an everlasting formula that shapes its domestic and regional roles. Egypt needs an army that prioritizes the conflict with Israel over any other mission whatsoever. Camp David had allowed the military and security compounds to have a greater presence in the realm of markets and domestic economic competition.

Camp David also created local political and economic compounds that took the country backwards. What I am saying is not a call for war, but a call for wakefulness and preparedness. We should not be afraid of war. It is the task of armies to remain always ready to face strategic adversaries.

The Gulfisation of the Middle East was planned to render Iran the number one strategic enemy of the Arab peoples, but Egypt doesn’t have to adopt this vision. In the final analysis, the mullahs’ rule in Iran can come to an end and Iran can find compromise formulas after Khamenei’s death and undergo gradual or fierce transformations. But in any case, the Iranian nation, whether under the rule of a populist Islamist regime or transcendent Persian nationalism, will continue to exist. The same doesn’t apply to Israel as an expansionist settler-colonial state that threatens peoples of the region with extermination.

Maybe I am writing about a new era not yet born, but one thing is certain: The world of Camp David is coming to an end. Egypt must prepare for possible changes that this might bring.

United World International

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May 2024